TOSC’s Erin Frye: A Donation Story

“You don’t get a phone call with the opportunity to save a life very often.  Excited would be an understatement.” – Erin Frye

When Erin Frye was attending Virginia Tech en route to a bachelor’s degree, she took a brief detour one day to join the Be The Match donor registry at a local Red Cross.

It was an event that would eventually save the life of a stranger.

“I got the call several years later that I was a potential match for a 67-year old female with Acute Myeloid Leukemia,” she said. “I went through the first round of screening where they check other markers to ensure a match and I was the best match. Then I went through a second round of screening to make sure I was healthy enough to provide the donation.”

She was.

“I donated through Peripheral Blood Stem Cells, which are extracted through the blood via aphaeresis; the blood comes out one IV, goes through centrifuge to extract stem cells and back into the other IV.”

Five days prior to the donation, a nurse gave Erin injections of a drug called filgrastim to increase the number of blood-forming cells in her bloodstream, which allowed them to extract from blood instead of drilling into the marrow.

“The actual process took about six hours and was performed at a hospital in Fairfax, Virginia,” Erin said. “Be The Match booked me in a very nice hotel room the night before because I had to be there very early.”

Erin doesn’t know the recipient’s current status, but she was informed she was doing great a year after the donation and she even received a nice letter of thanks from her.

Erin is also part of an on-going research study on the long-term effects of the donation process; so far, there are no known side effects.

After graduating in 2006, the Hokie worked as a Sales Engineer and Software Engineer before joining ERC on June 1, 2015. The native of Roanoke, Va. is now fulfilling a critical role in our nation’s space program working as a Computer Systems Administrator/Programmer in the Launch Control Center.

Years before Erin began to reach for the stars at KSC, she became a star in her own right – as a hero to a stranger.

“I am thrilled I had the opportunity to do this for someone,” she said. “I believe most people would be willing to give a day of their own life to give another person years of theirs.”

– Times Staff


Erin Frye picture

ERC’s Erin Frye was a bone marrow donor six years ago in Fairfax, Va.